Tue. Jul 14th, 2020

TV Rucap: RuPaul’s Drag Race: S12 E8 – “And I Droop”

As Heidi is wiping the lipstick from mirror after sending Brita back home to NYC, Jan is feeling some kind of way after not only losing a challenge win that she thought she deserved, but losing her best friend in the competition. Scarcely after wiping away the last of her tears, salt is rubbed into Jan’s wounds as Jackie Cox congratulates Gigi Goode on a (truly necessary?) third challenge win (though Gigi is already immodestly hoping for a fourth, a fifth, and a sixth challenge win). Jackie elaborates that while she is happy that Gigi won, she’s gagged that it was not Jan’s week to hear, “Condragulations, you’re the winner of this week’s challenge,” which immediately begs for Jan’s frustrations to resurface. Jan is a singer and a dancer: this is her thing, and she wants to win those challenges; she wants to win  challenge, and she thought that this was going to be the one! Though after venting these frustrations, Jan pivots back to emphasizing that the worst part of this was seeing her best friend go home. The other queens are decidedly not buying it: Jaida comments in an aside, “Yeah, she’s a little salty that her friend left, but I’m thinking she’s a little bit more upset that had not won this challenge.” Jan cries, “Everyone back at home is gonna be so upset that [Brita] went home,” and justifies her deep chagrin over not winning the challenge by arguing that “at least if there was any consolation it would have been that I would have won this challenge.” Whew! We love a good attempt at a spin, henny! Yes! Tell ‘em how it would have been the most altruistic scenario for everyone involved! “Every bitch thinks that they’re going to be that star, and they’re gon’ be that bitch, and they’re gon’ win, win, win, win, win,” Jaida muses, “chile, look: we all want to win this competition.” 

Once the queens return to the Werk Room, RuPaul pairs up Jackie Cox and Gigi Goode; Crystal Methyd and Jaida Essence Hall; “Simply Jan” and “Simply Heidi” (a great opportunity for Ru to take another dig at his hatred of Heidi N. Closet’s drag name goes unmissed); and Sherry Pie with The Widow Von’Du for a Mini Challenge where they must get into Quick Drag for “A Bosom Buddies Kiki” using FabFitFun products to shade each other. After offering Crystal the “Season One Filter” that is a towel to be placed in front of the camera lens and a “cruelty free” lotion unlike Jaida’s Snatch Game performance of Cardi B, Gigi and Jackie are the winners, earning one year subscriptions to FabFitFun. Another Gigi win!

The product placement doesn’t end there: for this week’s Maxi Challenge, the girls must create ridiculously extravagant and totally unnecessary products for Droop (Drag + an allusion to Gwyneth Paltrow’s infamous “Goop” line of beauty, health and wellness products) that they must sell in their own commercials. To queens like Heidi, who only made $9,000 the previous year working at a gas station, the idea of an elitist product is elusive, to say the least, but poses a real opportunity to let their imaginations and creativity run away with them. As the queens brainstorm ideas for their commercials, RuPaul introduces personal trainer and author Bob Harper who will direct their clips. While Bob Harper is charmed by Heidi’s gap toothed whistling of “sssssoft and ssssupple” for her multi-purpose lotion idea, RuPaul thinks it’s too generic, and that it should be “Heidi Hydrates,” which hasn’t been trademarked by her, but jokes that she’ll see her in court over it. When Widow Von’Du pitches “Throaté,” her revolutionary throat-coating spray, RuPaul brings up that she has not won any challenges since the first episode, which is something that he often mentions to many of the girls, but this must have tapped into an insecurity, because Widow appears to really be getting into her own head over this. Jan is serving “Sure, Jan,” a spritz for people feeling like Jan Brady who want to be a little more Marsha and feeling the “Jantas,” while Jackie’s “Magic Carpet Merkins,” paying homage to Barbara Eden and I Dream of Jeannie, is something that she is warned could potentially be a hot mess.

Ranking the “Droop” Infomercials

1.       Heidi N. Closet

The commercial for Heidi’s Hydrates is a lot of fun, even if a few of the jokes are a bit too self-aware. Although, whenever there’s a joke as tired as referencing something like the “tears of a drag queen,” she’s made it work with a subsequent shot of her hunched over a jar, berating one of her tears to “get in there!” And while there are stale fart jokes, there are randomly hilarious uses for her lotion like waxing a car or frying chicken. And, good for her, for managing to still work in her gap tooth whistle, even if Ru didn’t like it in the name! Quibbles aside, it’s still a very good commercial, and easily the best of the bunch, even if it is a tad uneven to be peak Heidi.

2.       Crystal Methyd

RuPaul hasn’t been as obsessed with an individual phenomenon the way he is with Crystal’s “El DeBarge” mullet since the days of Miss Vanjie, so it is smart that Crystal plays to that. How can you not cackle at “unique blend of hair collected from the tails of squirrels and raccoons” or “don’t waste years of your life waiting for your hair to grow long and beautiful like mine, ‘cuz you can die at any minute?” The decision to default to a Cher impersonation may have been a little lazy and irrelevant, but it’s also random enough to also be funny and add to the overall Crystal Methyd experience.

3.       Jackie Cox

Well, while Jackie’s many yonic euphemisms could have easily been too blue and crass, “Ho-hum Hoohah,” and her explanation that a merkin is a “wig for your cave of wonders” are really funny. The concept and setting for the video is overall really great; bonus points for suggesting an alternate use where one of the merkins can function as an artificial boyfriend beard.

4.       Jaida Essence Hall

Introducing herself as “terrible actress from Gay’s Anatomy” has to be one of the best individual things a queen has ever done on this show. It’s funny and light-hearted, and clever fan service by referencing a memorable previous challenge. She’s letting loose, and when she’s pulling her rhinestone “Luxuratuck” panties nearly up to her ears, you live!

5.       Jan

This is Laganja Estranja performance art. You need a couple Adderall to get through this commercial and all of the nonsense she’s serving with the death drops and everything of that ilk. It’s exhausting to get through, but it’s also an addictively compelling trainwreck for anyone with a camp sensibility.

6.       Sherry Pie

This is actually quite good, but it’s all been seen before. Most of the jokes are correct, and moderately effective, but they’re not particularly fresh or original, even though “How did you become so good-looking?” is a fun, subtle self-drag for a queen who isn’t known for her looks or fashion, and “newest hottest treat for the financially elite” is a cute little rhyme.

7.       Gigi Goode

Finally, a challenge that is about serving personality rather than lewks is just what is needed to highlight her glaring shortcomings. “Goode Night, Bitch” is a great product name, and while she actually has some really funny jokes in the first half of her commercial, her delivery is so flat and uninvolving that it would be a miracle if you laughed once. To make matters worse, she even has the extreme hubris to humble brag about her own three Maxi Challenge and two Mini Challenge wins and their prize money. If they’re not willing to throw her into the Bottom Two for this, she’ll likely never taste having to lip sync. 

8.       Widow Von’Du

Yikes, the only good thing about this is “Throaté,” which is a gag-worthy product name. Otherwise, she looks stiff and uncomfortable, and isn’t having any fun going off about her product. She clearly never let RuPaul’s words get out of her head, and this challenge did not go well for her.

Ranking the Runway: “Black Wedding”

1.       Gigi Goode

You have to give it up for her. This gown is the best thing she’s worn on the runway, as opposed to many of her wildly overrated looks, and there’s not a single flaw to point out in either the conceptualization or the execution of this. Credit where credit is due.

2.       Jan

Those sensational feathers shooting from the bodice! The dramatic flare of the gown below the waist! And the “I Don’t” written on the back of her veil is fun, even if it would have been better in a more elegant or cursive font. 

3.       Sherry Pie

This look is telling a Gothic horror story, the sleeves are wonderful, and the cameo at her throat is a perfect finishing touch. 

4.       Widow Von’Du

This could have been a few spots lower, but she werqed the garment! Her movement of the fabric in the train of her gown is hypnotic, and the sequined gown is a very flattering silhouette for her figure.

5.       Heidi N. Closet

The shoulder piece is SO, so good that it’s tempting to rank this even higher, but the rest of the gown is fairly standard.

6.       Crystal Methyd

This is something that Helena Bonham Carter would be wearing in a Tim Burton movie. It’s not incredibly original for this kind of look, but it’s still very effective.

7.       Jaida Essence Hall

It’s absolutely perfect and she looks amazing, but it’s conventional, and literally every other look on this runway had miles more imagination and dramatic effect than hers. It was maybe the wrong runway for this look, but at least she offers a bit of variety, and it’s still just too good to be any lower than this.

8.       Jackie Cox

It’s wild to be ranking this last, but this was a jaw-droppingly good runway. She looks beautiful, even if the makeup is a bit too heavy. The silhouette and length of the dress is great, and she’s looking like an Italian widow. 

JUDGING

While the judges praise Jaida, Crystal, and Jackie (whose infomercial incidentally taught guest judge Chaka Khan what a merkin is), ultimately Heidi is proclaimed the winner of the challenge. Everything has aligned perfectly for her: the concept of a challenge centered on opulence plays against type for this country bumpkin, but also plays to her strengths as a showcase for how funny she is, and as a chance to show a lot of heart, which is something that the judges consistently love. Even if this is far from being her best week, it is still a great week for her, and a due challenge win comes better late than never. Yay, Heidi! Thank you for breaking the five week streak of only Gigi and Sherry winning challenges: it was about time for someone else to get some love, and it’s great that it was you!

While Sherry and Gigi are both commended for their stunning runway looks, Ross complains that the rhythm of Gigi’s delivery was clunky, and that Sherry’s commercial was like watching a racehorse trot for the first half, which isn’t going to win any races. Ultimately, competition frontrunners Gigi and Sherry are safe, which leaves Jan and Widow as the Bottom Two of the week. Widow comes as no surprise, since hers was easily the worst of the infomercials, and while I personally think that Jan’s was a lot of fun, it’s also not “good,” and it makes sense that they would put her in the bottom for this. 

THE LIP SYNC

The lip sync song is “This Is My Night” by Chaka Khan, and unsurprisingly, Widow Von’Du is killing it from the moment the song begins: she’s put her money where her mouth is, and proving how big of a Chaka Khan fan she is. Jan, who has been rightfully nervous about going up against Widow Von’Du for a Chaka Khan song is slow to start since she has to get out of that giant gown that she’s wearing, but once she’s rid of it, she’s cartwheeling, death dropping, but most importantly, she’s full of energy and drive. Even though Jan is putting up a good fight, what Widow is doing is High Drag nearly at the level of a great Latrice Royale lip sync, and she looks unbeatable. Chaka Khan seems to bring out the best in the queens when one of her songs is on play: Trinity K. Bonet and April Carrión’s performance of “I’m Every Woman” is a mini lip sync classic (and showcase for both queens up for elimination), and now Widow and Jan’s “This Is My Night” seems destined to join that company. 

Ru decides that Widow will move forward in the competition, so Jan must sashay away, and the episode is left bookended in Jan’s tears. “One bad week, and it can be you time,” Jan muses on her way out.


David Acacia lives in Toronto, Canada, posts regularly on AwardsWorthy forums, and is the self-appointed High Priest of the Church of Meryl Streep. He is also a member of the International Cinephile Society where he writes for film reviews as film festival coverage.


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